Run Or Restore: 1964 Pontiac GTO Tri-Power

1964 Pontiac GTO

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This GTO looks like a great project for any muscle car fan. It still has the desirable Tri-Power equipped 389 and the floor rust has already been addressed. The exterior has been mostly left alone though so the next owner will have the privilege of deciding which path to take. Many folks would want to complete the job and respray the exterior with a new shiny coat of paint. What about you though – would you attempt to finish the restoration, or would you just do what’s needed to make it drivable again and enjoy it? Find this project here on eBay where the bidding ends later tonight!

Floors repaired

As mentioned, most of the rust has already been resolved. The work looks well done, but there is still a little corrosion in the fenders. Personally, I’d be tempted to put some POR-15 on the bad stuff and then start putting it back together. The seller claims that the paint on the exterior is original and I’d want to keep it that way if at all possible. It’s easy to live with a scruffy exterior, but a new interior kit may be in order here.

Tri-Power 389

Here’s the real draw of this Goat. The 389 was already a formidable power plant, but when the optional triple carb setup was bolted on top, it turned into a real monster. If I were in the market for a GTO this is the exact specification I’d look for. It has the Tri-Power engine, 4-speed transmission, black paint, and is even a first year car. Doesn’t get much better than that! So, what would you do with the outside if it were yours?

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  1. Mitch

    On a car like this I wouldn’t even think of doing a slap happy job. Do it up right, & paint it in the original color.

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  2. Jeff V.

    A true “King-of-the-court” of original muscle! Priceless 2 some! A true blue American body shop owner should buy this!

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  3. Joe

    I think show quality all around on this one.

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    I would address the mechanical issues and enjoy the hell out of it. Doing paint would certainly make everything else on the exterior look weathered. Then you are forced to go all the way with it. Leave the Barrett Jackson frame off for someone else. Detail it and touch it up if it absolutely needed. I have seen some amazing paint work that matches original patina. There is a huge amount of interest and appreciation for original cars. Not so much for an over restored car built from a catalog with a host of non oem parts. Would make an excellent driver that you wouldn’t be afraid to take out on a day that looks like rain. Enjoy it.

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    • grant

      Um, it’s an original tripower 64 Goat. I’m afraid for it, and it’s several states away. Drive it in the muck? You are insane. And there’s “patina” and theres rust. The car has holes in it for crying out loud.

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  5. Gary I

    If a car is a survivor car I get it, save it, put off the restoration for another day, enjoy it for what it is, all of that. There are too many rat rods and phony patina treatments these days at car shows. I walk right by and don’t even take notice most of the time! I grew up broke, as in I had to build my first two cars from other people’s junk broke. In my mindset the patina or, what i call rust, lifting paint, scratches, were something I aspired NOT to have. Shiny paint is the icing on the cake! It shows the world what your capable of, that you were able to see it through to the end. High class as opposed to low class. Most every car I drove until my twenties wore primer, because I was doing good to keep a classic on the road as a daily driver. Now that I have the ability to afford the shiny stuff, I appreciate a finely painted and polished car over the efforts of primer. Nothing wrong with a beater to have fun in, but don’t compare a work of art to a work in progress.

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  6. JW

    Yes this car should be brought back to it’s original glory !!! NIce Find

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  7. Derik Lattig

    I’d get it running, enjoy it for awhile and sell it.

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  8. DolphinMember

    My favourite year GTO, and a Tri Power on top of that.

    Seller doesn’t mention the car’s interior but says “no need to go looking for alotta hard to find parts. Almost everything is accounted for except for radiator”, so I guess there is an interior.

    Drivetrain condition is a big question mark. The exhaust manifolds are off the engine and the engine bay and some components look rough. No rad or heater system, so who knows when it was run last? There’s risk here that not even an inspection would clear up. And there’s still bodywork and paint to be done.

    At $17K so far it’s probably in the range for someone who wants a first year Tri Power and can handle some of the work required. The new SCM Guide has the first year coupes at a median of $37,800 and the top auction sale at $88K. The Tri Power would bump up the value over a non Tri Power, but this one needs work and parts, maybe a lot of work and parts if the drive train is bad. But you would need to get lucky and also be able to handle some of the work to come out OK financially here. A decent paint job will add $10K to what you pay to buy the car, which gives you very little room to fix what you know is needed plus what else might be needed.

    I see some risk here, so as much as I like these cars I would pass and look for one with less risk and less work and parts needed.

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  9. Woodie Man

    I had a ’64 Lemans convertible in the late seventies. Along with the smaller ’63 I think these are two of the prettier 60’s American cars. SOMEBODY is going to step up and pay for it. I’d love to find an original one that hasnt been messed with or restored though. Super cool.

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  10. OhU8one2

    I want,I want,I want. Since motor would need rebuilt,I would bore it out to 421ci,and do the Royal Bobcat performance mod’s. Keep it bone stock,but add the factory accessory wooden steering wheel. Then drive it every chance I could.

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    • Marty Parker

      Can’t bore a 389 to 421, as 421 is 0.30 over with 1/4 inch longer stroke.

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  11. pogo mojo

    Wow, bought one of these in 1976 for….500.00! trips and 4 speed. It was funny that all of the ones I found in salvage yards back in the day had the imprint of a tree or telephone pole in the front end. I would put a modern brake system if it were mine. Go like hell, stop like…..

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  12. DLM

    Given the bad floor and trunk floor, and the rust line part way up the engine buy on both sides there is some chance that the car was in some serious water.

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  13. AMCFAN

    Grant, No need to loose any sleep over what is going to happen to this GTO. The bidding is over $17K and if the bids are legit pretty sure it will be going to the right home. It being a 389 Tri power means??? Not sure. This was a popular option and many more survive. It is not a one of one.
    Thanks but I do not drive my cars in MUCK. If I do I am not hurting anyone in the process.
    I have several collector cars. If I plan my weekend to attend a car show and get up that morning and looks like rain I will not do two things. Take out my original condition non restored show car only to bring it home to spend several weeks detailing it back to the condition prior to opening the garage door. What I will do. I’ll take my survivor car and have fun with it and not let the rain get me down. The above GTO is similar in condition to my survivor car. Holes and all. Never an issue with the fun factor. People seem to appreciate it more.

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  14. DrGonzo

    Leave it as is, and drive it like you stole it… ;–)

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  15. dj

    I had a 1964 GTO Red with black vinyl top and back interior. Remote Mirror, tripower A/C(factory very rare), automatic, power windows, power steering and power brakes. I bought it in 1988 for $2500. Needed quarters and trunk floor. Restored it and sold it for $15,500 in 1990. I should have held on to it.

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  16. Mike

    Why would you want to do a half way job on a car like this. With the floor pans redone, why not do it all correct. I would buy this car check the work that has been done, repair the rest of the body, repaint it back to the original color, redo the seats if necessary, and repair any engine problems even if that requires a overhaul of the engine. Get it going and drive it. It would be a great car to add to my collection, and make some summer cruises in it.

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  17. Carmaleta LaChat

    We have a black one just like it but in a lot better shape, we need help with putting it back together again. We have had it in storage since 1988. I’d love it to be in chip goose show. We’ve been through so much and now I’m disabled an money is tight. We have a 389 on stand a automatic and manual transmission for it. I’d love a tri power.

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  18. Bob

    That is a muscle car most of us dream of but will never own

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